Seattle Mariners’ Eugenio Suárez hits a three-run home run against the Oakland Athletics during the 10th inning at the Oakland Coliseum on Wed May 3, 2023 (AP News photo)
Seattle. 000 000 101 5. – 7. 11. 0
Oakland. 000 002 000 0. – 2. 6. 1 10 innings
Time: 3:07 (66 min. rain delay)
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
By Lewis Rubman
OAKLAND–What do you do if you have a 1-0 lead and your starter, who has thrown no hit baseball for seven innings, reaches 100 pitches and you have a bullpen that can charitably be described as shaky? If you’re the 2023 Oakland for a while longer A’s, you pull your starter and lose the game, 2-1. What do you do if you have a rookie outfielder who’s hitting .258?
That’s not a great BA, but it’s 33 percentage points higher than your team’s average, so the kid’s holding his own against big league pitching. That, however didn’t measure up to the Athletics’ exigent standards, so the team took a look at its farm system and found a guy they’d gotten in exchange for AJ Puk, who was expected to take his place beside Jesús Luzardo as the mainstay of their rotation.
That guy is JJ Bleday, who was hitting .316 in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. Here is what the A’s media guide says in its first bullet point under the heading of “2022 Highlights” for Bleday: “Made both his Triple-A and Major League debuts … was batting .228 … in 85 games with
Jacksonville when he was selected on July 23 … hit .167 … with the Marlins.”
We had a chance to see this new acquisition tonight; he was the Athletics’ starting left fielder and batted fifth in the lineup the 6-24 A’s used against the 13-16 Seattle Mariners. Bleday went 0 for 4 and threw out a runner trying to take an extra base. The A’s lost 7-2 in 10 innings even though they led 2-1 after eight.
But first we had to sit through a one hour and six minutes rain delay.
The home team’s starting pitcher, JP Sears, has thrown a lot of pitches this year, surpassing the 100 pitch mark once but never approaching Mason Miller’s marvelous performance of the previous evening.
The best outing Sears had under his belt in what had been an 0-2, 6.23 season, came on April 23, when his 101 offerings produced 11 strike outs but also allowed the Texas Rangers to score four runs, all earned, in six innings. The A’s won that contest, 5-4, but Sears didn’t figure in the decision
Logan Gilbert, who showed up to work with a 1-1, 4.23 mark, has four arrows in his quiver. He throws four seamers about 45.7% of the time, at an average velocity of 94.7 mph. That makes him somewhat getatable; opponents are hitting at a .356 clip against him when he uses it. Gilbert goes to the slider 23.9% of the time and with an average velocity of 88.5 mph. His two other deliveries are the curve (17.1%, 82 mph) and the split fingered fast ball (13.3% and 84.9 mph).
Sears pitched himself out of a jam in the top of the fourth. Tony Kemp bobbled JP Crawford’s lead off grounder to second and advanced to third on José Caballero’s single to left, Caballero taking second on the throw. Two strike outs and a fly to right center, and the threat was over.
The A’s broke a scoreless tie in the home sixth. Noda led off with a walk. Nick Allen moved him up a notch with a sacrifice between the mound and the late. Ruíz sent a double to left, where Taylor Trammell had replaced Jarred Kelenic, who had been ejected in the top of the frame for arguing a strike call.
That brought Noda home with the first tally of the game. Then Kemp lined a two bagger down the right filed line that plated Ruíz. Gilbert recovered to retire Rooker and Laureano. But Oakland was ahead, 2-0.
Sears didn’t come out to pitch the seventh; Domingo Acevedo did. The southpaw starter had held the M’s to four hits in his six scoreless innings on the mound. He walked two and struck out seven, throwing 97 pitches, 66 for strikes. Acevedo, who has not been pitching effectively this year, gave up a one out double to AJ Pollock and an RBI single Caballero that cut the A’s lead in half.
Gilbert also exited after six frames. The two runs he’d allowed were earned and came on three hits and two walks. He had six strike outs to his credit and had thrown 89 pitches, 51 of them for strikes.
Gabe Speier relieved him and allowed a couple of two out hits before Penn Murfee came to his rescue by striking out the pinch hitting Jesús Aguilar.
Sam Moll gave up a lead off single in the top of the eighth and then got a force out at second that was called a double play and then had the out call at first reversed upon a crew chief review. He picked off the surviving base runner, pinch hitter Sam Heggerty, a play that also received a crew chief review. That call was upheld. Zach Jackson came in to fan Teoscar Hernández for the final out.
The A’s fell victim to the Curse of the Lead Off Double in their half of the frame. Nick Allen hit the ill-omened two bagger and went to third on Ruíz’s sacrifice bunt. Matt Brash kept him there, retiring Kent and Rooker.
Jackson returned to the mound to face the Mariners’ ninth inning offensive. He wasn’t successful. Cal Raleigh tied up his second game in a row, this time with a towering blast over the left center filed fence, landing 410 from the launching pad at home plate. It came on a hanging slider.
Lauriano led off the bottom of the ninth against Brash with a single to center. Bleday fanned. And Langeliers bounced into a 6-4-3 double play.
Overtime began with Adam Oller on the hill for Oakland and Caballero on second for the Mariners as the zombie runner. Rodríguez drew a walk. France whiffed on a full count. Haggerty also went down swinging. And then Suárez delivered the coup du gace with towering home run to center that deflated the A’s hopes for the second consecutive night.
It came off a slider and travelled 410 feet. Various and sundry mishaps led to Seattle’s adding three runs to their total before Sam Long got the final out, leaving Oakland to enter its half of the 10th trailing 7-2.
Trevor Gott put a quick end to the game.
Brash (3-2, 4:30) got the win. Oller (1-1, 10.07) took the loss.
Tomorrow, Thursday, afternoon at 12:37. George Kirby (2-2,2.93) will start for the Mariners. Drew Rucinski (0-1, 4.76) will try to save the A’s from complete ignominy.